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Assignment: Modest Inflation

Assignment: Modest Inflation

Assignment: Modest Inflation


Although polls show crime and official corruption have undermined public confidence in government, the Polish economy continued to improve year after year, turning in steady growth rates (5–7%) with modest inflation (2–4%) prior to the global recession in 2008. Poland’s economy was projected to grow at a modest 2.3% in 2014. Poland joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004—before the euro crisis cast a pall over Europe’s single market.

Poland is a parliamentary democracy with a popularly elected president. Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s center-right Civic Platform won the 2011 elections with nearly 40% of the popular vote and gaining sixty-three seats in the Sejm (parliament). The Civic Platform (PO) and the agrarian Polish People’s Party (PSL) formed a coalition government, with the PSL as a very junior partner. President Lech Kaczynski, leader of the main opposition party, called Law and Justice, was killed in a plane crash in April 2010. Bronislaw Komorowski (a Civic Platform leader from 2001–2010) was elected president in August 2010.

The Czech Republic

Unlike Poland, caught between two totalitarian states (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) in World War II, Czechoslovakia was betrayed at the Munich meeting between British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and German Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler. (It’s fair to call the Munich Pact a betrayal because Britain and France chose not to honor a preexisting military alliance with Czechoslovakia.) Hitler’s Wehrmacht invaded and occupied Czechoslovakia in 1939. In 1945, as the war was drawing to a close, it was the Red Army, ironically—not the U.S. Army—that “liberated” most of Czechoslovakia, thus helping to boost the image of the Czech Communist Party. In the 1947 elections, Czech Communists won a majority of seats in the national parliament, formed a government, and quickly moved to establish a Stalinist dictatorship.

This bit of history is especially important both because the Communists came to power in a free election rather than a revolution (the only such instance in European history) and because Czechoslovakia was the last country where anyone who knew anything about Eastern (or Slavic) Europe would have expected that to happen.